Interview: City Limits (11 September 1986)

This page reproduces some of Alan Ayckbourn's significant quotes from the interview.

The 2 Alans


"I saw the Whitehall farces which were wonderful. And at the Comedy Club you could see plays banned by the Lord Chamberlain.
Tea and Sympathy, A Streetcar Named Desire. Lots of meaty American imports."

"I entered through the back door as a stage manager. I learnt the theatre from the ground up."

"For better or worse I am middle class. I spent my childhood bang in the centre of the Home Counties as the stepson of a bank manager. Where you were born and how you were raised dictates the voice in your head. Today, nearly everyone's middle class. The term doesn't suggest a narrow layer any longer, though my feeling is for London suburbia. Maybe going as far as Reading but not further than that."

"I'm very much interested in them. The politics of envy. Currently we've got the appalling state of a divided society. The Americans feel you can make it on your own. Here the feeling is the very few can make it and they operate dishonestly. The atmosphere sanctions dishonesty. And the dishonesty comes from the top. No one's shocked to learn top Government figures, be they Conservative or Labour, have a Swiss bank account. From allowing that we allow more. Like rust on car, it erodes. Those who put money before people are wrong and sometimes very evil."

"I guess I'm more that way than the other. A sort of Social Democrat. Certainly not SDP! I do feel frightened when someone gets so convinced of their views they're willing to inflict damage, physical or economic, in order to enforce them."

"I've noticed that men continue to slap their thighs long after the women have stopped reacting. The older women I find myself writing about are the generation caught between liberation and the duty thing about maintaining the home. They've had to create new identities piecemeal. They simply can't be themselves".

"I'm amused by how men attempt to come to grips with woman's new self image. The British aren't terribly good at it. At parties men and women separate to either ends of the room. The women always seem to be having a better time so I stay with them. Far more interesting than listening to terrible jokes. I have noticed though that the young actors and actresses I know appear to have a firmer grip on the whole mess."

"If you survive you go in and out of fashion. Fashion can't be controlled. After
The Norman Conquests I was splashed across the papers as the greatest comedy playwright since Congreve. Next year the cry was 'How dare Ayckbourn claim he's as great as Congreve!'"